The ISPS Handa Chatham Cup Final is set to be a classic this weekend with both Central United and Onehunga Sport looking to make history.
Onehunga Sports, who were so impressive in winning the NRFL Premier League this season, will play in their first final as they look to complete a rear League – Cup double.
Meanwhile for Central United the focus all season has been all about winning the ISPS Handa Chatham Cup. The five-time champions are in the final for the first time since 2014 and looking to win the title for the first time since 2012.
Both Central United coach Aaron McFarland and Onehunga Sports coach Hiroshi Miyazawa have plenty of mutual respect for each other. They said their teams have trained and prepared well for one of the biggest days on the football calendar.
“It is the first time that we are in the final so everyone is very excited,” said Miyazawa, a former professional for the Football Kingz. “We already won the league so my little concern was how fresh and hungry they would be to win another title. I feel they are still very, very hungry and I feel like everyone wants more.”
McFarland said it would not be difficult getting his team up for the final which will be broadcast live on SKY Sport from 3.30pm. Asked what it would mean to lift the Chatham Cup, which dates back to 1923, McFarland was plain in his answer.
“It’s everything, for the winter season for domestic football, its everything, it’s the biggest trophy and I can’t say anymore really – It’s where all the focus goes to, and yes we want to do well in the league, but it’s not as important as winning the Chatham cup, because it’s the true national trophy, where everyone enters and it’s a tough one to win and when those opportunities come along, we want to grab it with both hands.”
Both teams come into the final with plenty of form and confidence. In the semi-finals, Central United turned on a fine performance at Kiwitea Street to put away Bay Olympic 5-0, while Onehunga Sports travelled to Christchurch and were too good for Cashmere Technical winning 3-0. Miyazawa cited their performance in the quarterfinal when they defeated Birkenhead United 3-0 at Shepherd’s Park as a key moment in the Cup campaign. He said their success this season has been due to hard work.
“From day one of preseason, everyone worked really hard. I don’t think there are any teams out there that are working any harder than us. All we can do from now on is to focus on the best preparation possible and on the day try to deliver the best performance of the season. Hopefully we get the results and another title. To become national champions would be a completely different feeling, compared to winning the league title. Our team will be giving it 100 percent effort on Sunday and see what the football Gods have got to say.”
McFarland said the message to his players is to keep to normal routines and to keep things as low-key as possible.
“It’s not like any other game but at the same time, we don’t think we need to do anything special or do anything different otherwise we would’ve missed the trick for the whole year,” said McFarland.
“So our whole year we have been preparing for this game and develop our playing style and the playing model and getting together the best team possible to play on this big occasion.”
He said it was hard to say whether Onehunga Sports would struggle with the occasion of playing in their first final or continue their momentum which saw them as runaway winners of the league.
“[They may struggle], or it may just be the icing on the cake, but what is in no doubt, is that there is a lot of players in there, who some will have national league experience but for others it will be the first occasion for them and I know as a player going into these finals and as a coach, now having been a couple, it’s always difficult going into your first one. Once you have a couple under your belt, you’re able to perform better, so I think there will be that added pressure on them, just because it is the first final for a lot of those players, but no doubt they will have a lot of confidence in their ability and consistency throughout the year and believe in themselves to be able to beat us on the day.”
One thing that is for certain is both teams will not die wondering in the final that features two teams from Central Auckland for the first time. A good crowd is expected for both teams.
“It is quite a unique final this one because Central are a very good football team and we also like to play mobile and attractive football,” said Miyazawa. “We know that this is a really rare opportunity and I do appreciate what we have been able to achieve this year, but we are still hungry and we really want to win this game.”
McFarland added: “It is the highest domestic honours that we can contest for, it’s really important that regarded it’s a national trophy and from the humble beginnings in 1962, the club has really developed to a really proud and competitive club and to add to the trophy cabinet is something they’re aspiring to do, especially when it’s a trophy as important as the Chatham Cup, which is the oldest trophy in New Zealand.”
ISPS Handa Chatham Cup Final
Central United v Onehunga Sports
When: Sunday 10 September, kick off 3.30pm
Where: QBE Stadium
Tickets: Adults $10, Children U-16 Free
Live on SKY Sport
Onehunga Sports: 45. Lewis Caunter (GK), 4. Ross Haviland, 6. Jordan Vale, 7. Jack Caunter , 9. Sean Lovemore, 10. Jake Porter, 11. Max Mata, 13. Robert Martinkovic (GK), 16. Thomas Leabourn-Boss, 17. Charlie Hoyle, 20. Shohei Moriyasu, 21. Calvin Opperman, 22. Andrew Milne, 24. Harshae Raniga, 29. Boon Ozawa, 30. Joseph Dawkins (c), 31. Hugo Kidd, 34. Boyd Curry
Coach: Hiroshi Miyazawa
Central United: 1. Danyon Drake (GK), 2. Seamus Ryder, 3. Takuya Iwata, 4. Marko Dordevic, 5. Angel Berlanga, 6. Alfie Rogers, 7. Mario Ilich, 8. Dean Lausev (c), 9. Regont Murati, 12. Connor Cahill-Fahey, 13. Maro Bonsu-Maro
14. Ermal Fusha, 15. Ignacio Machuca, 16. Joshua Margetts, 17. Reid Drake, 18. Nicolas Zambrano, 19. Albert Riera, 20. Emiliano Tade, 21. Sione Fa’apoi, 24. Matti Hamnett (GK)
Coach: Aaron McFarland